Logbook Stories

from my "Standard Pilot Master Log"


What Does a CFI Do for Fun?

April & July, 1978

For fun a CFI goes out and flies an airplane - of course, dummy. What did you expect? Perhaps a different airplane; certainly without a student onboard, and maybe something different than what they do in the ordinary course of their occupation. Something that can be interesting, challenging, and best of all - a learning experience.

So it was with the Piper PA-38 Tomahawk, a totally new aircraft (photo below) Piper introduced shortly before I left my Piper FBO employer for my community college employer. When my FBO got in a new Tomahawk, and seeing as how nobody was already checked out in it, I checked myself out in the new aircraft type (first logbook line item pictured above). I was then the "go-to" CFI for checking out other pilot employees and renters who wanted to fly the "Tommy Hawk". And did so as a CFI for several such checkouts.

The PA-38 was certified for spins and so on the occasion of the second logbook line pictured above I took some free time to rent the Tomahawk and take it up to do some spins. So I can verify: this is not a good aircraft for spin training. It's reluctant to enter a spin, but once in a spin it gets tight fast, and worse yet, it's reluctant to exit a spin, and not before getting even tighter and pointing almost straight at the ground. The airplane flight manual contains some very pertinent verbiage regarding Tomahawk spins; well worth noting before you try spinning the airplane. It's not surprising there were a number of crashes associated with Tomahawk spins, probably by pilots who didn't pay sufficient attention to the flight manual. There was a subsequent FAA Airworthiness Directive to install stall strips to modify its stall characteristics. This was after my time, so I don't know if it helped or not. In any case, if I were teaching a CFI hopeful in that day, I would have used a Cessna 150 and not a Piper Tomahawk as my spin endorsement trainer of choice.

But, on this occasion I was solo in the airplane, I was confident that I knew what I was doing, and so I was just a CFI out having some flying fun on my own time and my own dime (and spare dimes for an FBO employee were not plentiful).



References for Non-Pilots: